The Midnight Riders:
Gutshot Summer Campaign

Chapter Five:

Bloodbath in
Rio Gato!

GM: Mike Mitchell
Assisted by: Paul Mauer

Played 8:00 - 11:30 p.m.,
July 1, 2003

Posted:July 17, 2003

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The Midnight Riders:

  • Cord -- alias the Mystery Rider (played by Kyle Nearhood)
     Custom 2 - TN 8, Lucky, Tough As Nails, Sure-shot: Pistol
  • Heinrich "Hank" Heidelberg -- alias Hank the German, or Preacher Man (played by Matt Jeffers)
    Custom 2 - TN 8, Brawler, Hard to Hit, Tough As Nails, Two-Gun Shootist, Spontaneous,
  • Thomas Irons (played by J.J. Shaw)
    Custom 2 - TN 8, Tough As Nails, Two-Gun Shootist, Lucky
  • The Phoenix Kid (played by Rick Haufe)
    Custom 3 - TN 9, Fanning the Gun, Hard to Hit, Reliable, Spontaneous, Tough as Nails, True Grit
  • Bogart (played by Austin Byers)
    Custom 2 - TN 8, Sure-shot: Rifle, Tough-as-nails
  • Former NPC - Hop Sing (played by Justin Nemeti)
    Custom 3 - TN 8,
    Hard to Hit, Sure-shot: Rifle, Spontaneous, True Grit
  • Former Groundhog Gang Member - Deputy Bill Fife (played by Trevor Johnson)
    Custom 2 - TN 8, Bawler, Hard to Hit
  • Former Groundhog Gang Member -Johnny Gunshot (played by Jonathan Burton)
    Custom 2 - TN 8, Fanning the Gun, Quickload
  • Former Groundhog Gang Member -Isabella (played by Laura Potter)
    Custom 2 - TN 8, Hard to Hit, Speedy

Specialties in Blue represent new Specialty purchased by Character


The Texas Ranger Posse
(all NPCs played by Paul Mauer)

  • Bob McLawson -- armed with two pistols
    Texas Ranger- TN 6, Spontaneous
  • Garret Duke -- , armed with Double-Barreled Shotgun
    Texas Ramger -- TN 6, Sure-Shot: Pistol
  • John Graycloud. -- armed with pistol, two knives
    Bounty Hunter- TN 6, Sure-shot: Pistol
  • Simon Eliot. -- armed with pistol and rifle
    Outlaw- TN 7, Tough as Nails
  • Old Charlie. -- armed with Sawed-off Shotgun and pistol
    Custom 2 -- TN 8, Speedy, Hard-to-Hit
  • Deputy Wilson Jones. -- armed with pistol, two knives
    Deputy -- TN 8, Hard-to-hit, Lucky
  • Deputy Adam Smith. -- armed with pistol, two knives
    Deputy -- TN 8, Hard-to-hit, Lucky
  • The Alamo Kid. -- armed with pistol, two knives
    Custom 2 -- TN 8, Sure-Shot: Pistol, Two-gun Shootist
  • Penelope. -- armed with derringer (sawed-off shotgun in duffle bag)
    Thug- TN 9, Hard-to-Hit, Speedy
  • Chuck B.. -- armed with pistol (sawed-off shotgun in duffle bag)
    Thug- TN 9, Hard-to-Hit, Speedy



Texas Rangers Ride Into Town!!!

Notorious Outlaws Gunned Down In The Street!!!

Surviving Gang Runs Away
With Tails Between Their Legs!

“It's gone from bad to worse," said Gutshot co-creator Mike Mitchell. "Four more members of the gang were captured in one of the bloodiest, most vicious scenarios I've ever seen. It's safe to say that the Midnight Riders were caught with their britches down in this one!"

THE RANGERS RIDE IN --Gutshot Posse member Paul Mauer fills in for Mike Murphy and moves the Texas Ranger's posse into the dusty Texas border town of Rio Gato.

July 1, 2003
Houston, Texas -- The game world clashed with the real world in the fifth playtest of the Gutshot Summer Campaign. Mike Murphy, the Gutshot co-creator who usually ran the law and tried to foul up the Riders' plans, had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict with work.

"Work comes first," said Gutshot co-creator Mike Mitchell. "But it was still unfortunate, and then I had to scramble at the last minute to whip up a different adventure."

The adventure change was necessary because Murphy was providing a ride to three of the younger gamers, and he had outlined most of that particular adventure and was unable to give the notes to Mitchell.

"We were going to have a great jail break, like the one in the classic John Wayne film, Rio Bravo," Murphy explained. "I've been wanting to do this adventure for years, and with two Characters behind bars, this was the perfect chance."

In the previous game, Big Jack and Rico Suarez (played by Ian K. and Justin Nemeti) were gunned down by the Groundhog Gang and gun-toting citizens in the adventure, "Bad Day at Beaver Creek." They were left behind to recover their wounds in captivity.

"We were going to break them out of jail, but I decided to postpone it because the Riders were down three players and Murphy really wanted to be there for the jail break," Mitchell explained. "So I improvised."

The morning of the game, Mitchell called and drafted Paul Mauer to help with the game, and then Mitchell sat down and quickly wrote another adventure loosely based on a scenario suggested in the game Desperado.

"Desperado is a decent little skirmish game that shares a few similarities with Gutshot," Mitchell explained. "I had played Desperado 2 before, but hadn't seen the third edition until fellow game developer Scott Larson sent me a copy. Scott is one of the nicest guys I've ever met online and I can't wait to play his RPG, Terra Incognita, after the summer campaign winds up."

Scott also runs the Triggernometry page (which is probably the best collection of Western Gaming links online). Information about Desperado, and Monday Knight miniatures, can be found on that page.

The adventure, "Bloodbath in Rio Gato," was very simple: the Midnight Riders had come to a small Texas/Mexico border town to lick their wounds and plan to free the gang members who had been captured in the previous game. Suddenly, a Texas Ranger Posse rides into town to gun them down, or take them alive.

A THUNDER OF HOOVES AND A CLOUD OF DUST -- Two Texas Rangers lead a posse of eight men to bring the Midnight Riders to justice.

(We didn't have any mounted figures, so we just "imagined" the horses -- and made notations on the Character Sheets).

"The way Paul played the posse," Mitchell said, "they would rather gun them down."

Mauer has been a longtime friend of Gutshot, and one of the earliest Posse members.

"The first Houston Gutshot playtest was at Paul's apartment. We had miniatures, but no buildings, so we were using video tape boxes and remote controls for buildings, and an upturned beer glass for a water tower. It was a wild and crazy game," Mitchell recalled with a smile.

The game was a fast and bloody ordeal -- complicated by the fact that the Midnight Riders had increased in size, even though two of its members were in jail. Four new players had joined the game the week before (most of them had played in the rival, Groundhog Gang) and were so smitten with Gutshot that they had returned to join the gang.

"They were quite willing to stay as a rival gang, but it would have almost been impossible for me to run two rival gangs as part of a single campaign," Mitchell said. "So, I convinced them all to join forces and create a very large gang of 13 members.(only nine of which were there that night).

Justin Nemeti, whose Character Rico Suarez was in jail, agreed to play the former NPC, Hop Sing, the Chinese servant.

The game was fast and deadly -- when the dust and bullets settled, four of the gang had been captured (to find out who, read the full game report). It also revealed something else, that was no surprise to anyone who had ever played the game before.

"The shotguns are too deadly at point blank range," Paul said after the game. Some of the other players stayed while Mitchell packed up the figures and buildings and agreed with that conclusion.

"The discussion was thorough and interesting, and helped bring to light things that everyone had been sensing for a while," Mitchell said. "We all agreed that the shotguns needed tweaking because they were just too danged powerful."

After the players departed, Mitchell and Mauer stood around in the Midnight Comics & Games parking lot for about an hour suggesting solutions, and then discarding them for various reasons. The brainstorming finally paid off, though.

"We finally figured out a way to make things better," Mauer said.

The changes included significant alterations to the way combat is conducted at Point Blank range, and to limiting the "Wild Shot" to one-handed weapons.

"These changes may be exactly what we've been looking for to bring some much-needed balance to the game," Mitchell said. "Most everything else seems to work, but shotguns at point blank range seemed to need some work. I think we've finally figured out how to make them work within the context of the whole game."

The rule changes will be tested during the next playtest.

"That's when we'll know for sure," Mitchell said. "Most rules look good on paper, but the Players decide if they're any good... or not."

Rio Gato


There were 9 primary Characters
and about 10 NPCs.

The game lasted two Turns, taking almost four hours to play.

Our Story Thus Far (flavor text -- to be read aloud):
“Rio Gato is a small Texas town in pissing distance from the Mexican border. It’s known for three things: cats, cats, and a local population that don’t care what you done or who ya done it to… as long as yer gold is good. This is a very rough-and-tumble place, frequented by men and women who are prone to leave town real quick whenever a Texas Ranger or Federal Marshal enters town.

“Your gang has arrived here to lick their wounds and plan their next move. You’ve been in town for a while now and have taken rooms in the Grand Hotel. You’re also regular patrons of the Longhorn Saloon. During this time you’ve noticed that most men (and women) wear their pistols in plain sight. Rifles are not allowed, though, (so keep ‘em in yer room or locked up in the tack room at the Livery Stable. This is a wild town and a little drinking, fighting, and shooting are expected—but nobody is out looking for trouble, because trouble will come looking for you.”

Game Type: Two teams. Midnight Riders are the Black Hats, the lawmen are the White Hats.

Character Placement:
White hats: two thugs are in the Hotel. All the others gallop onto the board from the edge near the Hotel and Saloon.

All injured Characters start the game in bed (depending on their funds, they will be in an upstairs bedroom in the hotel or the upstairs hayloft in the Livery Stable).

All other Players roll 1d6 to determine where their Characters start the game.

Character Placement Table

1 - 3 Hotel, eating breakfast.*
4 Saloon, drinking breakfast.
5 Livery Stable*
6 Anywhere in town, but not inside the Sheriff's Office (it's locked right now).
* Characters with ANY Damage are in bed asleep. They must spend their first Action waking up, second Action dressing and third Action moving downstairs. These Characters cannot make it outside the building in less than three Actions.


Victory Objectives: Get out of town alive (make it to any edge of the board -- even if they are on foot, they will be able to lose their pursues in the badlands).

Victory Points Awarded: Each Character that escapes earns 50 VP. Add 10 VP if they escape with a horse. Add 10 VP if they get away with most of their cash and supplies. Give 10 VP if they do something very clever or smart. Award normal VP for kills. Earn extra 10 VP for killing a Bounty Hunter or a Texas Ranger (there are only two actual Texas Rangers in the posse).

Restrictions: None.

GM Instructions: It's 9 a.m. as the game starts. Use table above to place the Characters around town. When the first posse members' slip is pulled, move the entire posse into town as a group. Continue to do this for the next Action, then move them individually. The posse will enter the town on the main street between the Saloon and Hotel. At that point, they may go where they want. Two of the posse are hiding in the hotel (Penelope & Chuck B.). Both have sawed-off, double-barreled shotguns hidden in their duffle bags. It will take them one full Action to get them out.

Bob McLawson:
$50 in gold, $100 in Mexican money
Garret Duke: $75 in gold
John Ironcloud: $50 in gold
Simon Elliot: $20 in gold
Old Charlie: $50 in gold
Deputy Wilson Jones: $5 in greenbacks
Deputy Adam Smith: $10 in greenbacks
The Alamo Kid: $25 in gold

Turn One
It was a hot, quiet morning and the Riders were enjoying a peaceful breakfast... little dreaming that this was the calm before the storm!

Cord, Thomas Irons, and the Phoenix Kid were eating breakfast in the Grand Hotel. A few others were milling around the Livery Stable: Hop Sing, Bogart, Isabella, Hank the German. Johnny Gunshot and Dept. Bill were enjoying a morning "pick me up" at the Saloon. Suddenly, the morning calm was shattered by the thundering hooves a posse riding into town, being lead by Bob McLawson, brother of the Texas Ranger that Hank had murdered in Beaver Creek! Their weapons, loot, and gear stashed about town, the Riders had to make a desperate bid for freedom!

Moving as a mob, the Posse rode into town (they stayed as a group for the first Two Actions of the game, moving when any one of their slips was pulled). The posse planned to capture the Riders' horses to prevent the gang from escaping into Mexico, so they made straight for the corral, quickly covering both the front door and the back door by the storeroom. Isabella was standing in the corral when they rode up, and since she was not yet wanted by the posse, they didn't shoot her on sight. "Get out of here!" Sam Elliot ordered the startled woman. She quickly complied and mounted her horse to get the heck out of the line of fire.

GET OUT OF HERE! Isabella (in pink at right) doesn't need the Texas Rangers to tell her twice!

Meanwhile, at the back of the Livery Stable, Hank the German was in the store room checking out his supplied and gear. He quickly grabbed one of the many double-barreled shotguns stowed there, and let Old Charlie have it with both barrels. The 19 points of Damage was more than enough to kill the posse member -- once again, Hank had drawn first blood! But there were more members ready to take him on.

Across town, the others began to run for the Livery Stable, their horses, and hopefully their freedom. In the Saloon, Dept. Bill politely asked the Bartender for the sawed-off shotgun he had stashed behind the counter. Since no one in this town has any love for the law, he was happy to oblige. Dept. Bill followed Johnny Gunshot down the street, even as the Texas Rangers delivered their ultimatum to the embattled outlaw gang: "Surrender or die!"

The notorious bounty hunter, John Graycloud, spoke for the posse. The message was simple and clear.

Rick Haufe gets a little help from J.J. Shaw as they measure the distance from the Longhorn Saloon to the battle being fought across town at the Livery Stable.

McLawson and Graycloud dismounted and prepared to fight the Outlaws, who were quickly closing on the corral. The Phoenix Kid made it past the saloon and was heading up the back streets toward the battle... and his doom.

Meanwhile, the mysterious man known only as Cord snuck up behind the Sheriff's Office and found Tubby O'Brien, the portly "sheriff" in this outlaw town, safely locked and hiding under the desk in his office. Thinking fast, Cord bribed him with $50 for a rifle from the locker. The timid sheriff passed it to him through the bars of the jail window. Now armed with a decent weapon, Cord continued to sneak toward the killing fields of the corral.

In the corral, things were going from bad to worse. Hank was holed up in the storeroom firing through a partially opened door (he had grabbed another double-barreled shotgun from their stash of supplies) and blasted at Adam Smith, only to miss! Bogart, who had been sleeping up in the hayloft, crept up to the second-floor hay door and tried to shoot at the posse member who was ordering Isabella to get out, and he rolled SNAKE-EYES! His gun jammed, leaving him stuck on the second floor without a weapon. Scrambling, Hank grabbed another shotgun and let Adam Smith have it, this time dishing out 10 points of Damage. Enough to hurt him, but not enough to kill!

ONE DOWN, MORE TO GO -- Hank the German, alias "The Preacherman," scrambles to defend himself from the Texas Ranger Posse that has finally tracked them down.

Thomas Irons had finally gotten his britches and boots on and made it downstairs into the street, little suspecting the perfumed villainy that waited behind him. Two of the posse scouts, Penelope and Chuck B., were sitting in the hotel having breakfast. They were there to bring up the rear, which they did with a vengeance. Slipping her shotgun out of its duffle bag, she quickly stepped into the street behind Thomas and shot him in the back with one barrel. The 5 points caught him completely by surprise

PENELOPE LETS TOM HAVE IT -- The paid posse Thug makes her presence known... with hot lead! "Deputy" Bill was close by and was soon on hand to help his buddy.

Dept. Bill had just rushed past Tom on his way from the Saloon, saw his friend in peril, so he turned to help him. Which was probably a very good thing, as Chuck B. had grabbed his shotgun from inside the hotel and was heading out to help fill Tom full of lead. Seeing Dept. Bill rush up, he let loose with both barrels, and missed! Tom had better luck and let her have it at point blank range for 13 points... almost enough to kill her, but not quite.

A RUN OF BAD LUCK -- Garret the Texas Ranger drops the Phoenix Kid in three Actions, before the Kid can even move.
The Phoenix Kid had finally arrived at the street next to the corral, and Garret, the second Texas Ranger, spied him. He walked up on the startled outlaw and let him have have it with both barrels of his shotgun... 17 points! Enough to kill a lesser man, but the Phoenix Kid called on his True Grit to ignore the attack, and survived. For the moment, at least. In a run of bad luck Garret got three Actions before the Kid got one: the Ranger got off three shots, hit three times, and the Phoenix Kid went down in a heap.

Another "Kid," The Alamo Kid of the posse, spied Johnny Gunshot creeping into the fight, so he charged up on his horse and tried to gun him down, only to hear the hiss of Snake-eyes! Johnny was spared for the moment, but the Alamo Kid quickly recovered and blasted him for 10 points.

The Livery Stable, meanwhile, had become a center for carnage for both sides. Hop Sing ran up the alley behind the stable to offer help to Hank. He used his shotgun to cut Wilson in half, and then scuffled with Simon with his knife, to no avail. Hop Sing mounted a horse and decided to make a break for it, taking 7 points from Adam Smith, even as the action inside the Stables heated up to a boiling point.
STILL SMOKIN' -- Smoke still wafting from his shotgun, Hop Sing stands over the bodies of two posse members, even as Adam Smith (by the door) readies to shoot the outlaw.

Bogart had made his way down the ladder and was running to the storeroom even as John Graycloud came up behind him and missed with his first shot, but not his second. Hank had bee hit for 6 points (being Tough-as-nails, though, he only took 5). Sam Elliot joined him. Their target: Hank the German!


Turn Two
Penelope fired on Thomas Irons, and missed... much to her regret. "Deputy" Bill was only a few paces away when he heard the shot, and turned to help Thomas. But Lady Luck laughed at him and snake let out a wicked hiss as he rolled Snake-Eyes! His gun jammed and he stood there with a jammed gun, starring into the face of a woman with a shotgun. But Lady Luck is ever fickle, and his name came out of the hat again. This time he let her have it with his own shotgun, and dropped the lady thug in the street like so much dead meat. Chuck B. came running out of the hotel and fired at Bill, but missed.

Elsewhere, the battle raged in the streets of Rio Gato. Adam Smith blasted Hop Sing for 9 points, but the crafty Asian called upon his True Grit and ignored the damage. Atop his horse in the alley, Sam Eliott took down Johnny Gunshot even Hank bolted from the Livery Stable to make a break for the badlands. Simon blasted Hop Sing for 8 points as Bob McLawson ran through the Livery Stable to get a shot at Hank, the man who had killed his brother. The Alamo Kid couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, but Bogart could, blasting the Kid for 13 points; AK made a break for it on horseback the first chance he got.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Thomas Irons had pulled both his pistols and blasted Chuck B. the Thug for 13 points. Deputy Bill wasn't shooting as well, but Thomas took up the slack and dropped the Thug with his next shot. At this point, Thomas Irons and Deputy Bill decided to hightail it out of town.

Seeing Hank heading for the hills, McLawson mounted his horse and gave chase, but perhaps the Preacherman had a few friends left upstairs, because he got away. Bogart and John Graycloud got into a quick exchange of lead, but the outlaw killed the half-breed bounty hunter and made a break for it. Seeing her man heading out, Isabella also made a bid for freedom and escaped. Thomas Irons also escaped, as did the mysterious Cord. But Texas Ranger Dan Garret tore through the dusty streets of Rio Gato and made a beeline for Deputy Bill, who was almost at the edge of town, and safety. Garret got him for 8 points. Wounded, Bill's fate hinged on whose name was pulled from the hat next.. and it was Garret's. The lawman shot Bill in the back and the last Midnight Rider went down.

When the dust had settled, four of the nine Midnight Riders were lying bloody in the streets. McLawson quickly ordered the town sawbones to tend their wounds. "After all, it ain't Christian to hang wounded men," he said. As the lawmen continued to search the hills for the outlaws, the mysterious Cord (who had never been successfully identified) snuck back into town, into his hotel room, and gathered his supplies... and his gold. He managed to pilfer a few horses from some outlying houses and headed into the desert to collect his friends. Although nearly half their gang was headed for prison, he swore that the world had not heard the last of the Midnight Riders.

When the smoke cleared, almost half the Characters had been captured (two in last week's game). Most of those who escaped had lost most of their gear, their weapons, their horses, and their gold! Only Cord, Slim, and Billy had all their cash. Thomas and Bogart had some cash on them, and although the Phoenix Kid had been captured, he had buried $1,700 near a cactus outside of Rio Gato, so if he ever escapes, he can eventually retrieve it.

Free Captured

Hank the German (alias "The Preacherman")
Thomas Irons

Phoenix Kid
Johnny Gunshot
"Deputy" Bill Fife
Hop Sing

Billy "The Kid" (didn't play this game)
Slim (didn't play this game)
Big Jack (captured last game)
Rico Suarez (captured last game)

Victory Points Awarded
Thomas Irons
Hank the German
Phoenix Kid      
Hop Sing  
Johnny Gunshot      
Dept. Bill  

* Cord was awarded 5 VP for the clever idea of buying a rifle from the Sheriff, and another 10 for sneaking back into town to get his stuff.

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